Last week I went on a little creative retreat to Santa Rosa Beach, Florida. While I wish I could have taken you all with me, that wasn’t an option so I figured the best I could do was give you a little recap of the experience.
The retreat was hosted by Shaunna Parker and The Creative Exponent. If you haven’t heard of Shaunna or The Creative Exponent, I highly recommend checking out both. Shaunna is a multi-talented writer, painter, and creative business coach. The Creative Exponent is a wealth of inspiration, an inspiring creative community, and a can’t miss podcast.
Like many, I haven’t traveled anywhere by plane since 2019. Feeling safe and knowing the retreat was a small group gathering, I was eager to attend.
Why A Creative Retreat?
Creativity might be the biggest part of my job as a full-time blogger. My brain is constantly working (sometimes in overdrive) to think of new and creative content, ideas, recipes, etc. to share with the readers of Inspired by Charm. Creativity is like a vehicle in that it will eventually run out of gas if one doesn’t refill the tank. Shaunna’s creative retreat was a way for me to refuel my inspiration vehicle.
This isn’t the first time I’ve gone on a creative retreat. A few years ago I went to Ireland for a week-long photography retreat. It was life-giving. To be honest, if I could do two retreats a year, I would. One would be a retreat with others, another would be a retreat all by myself. In fact, this retreat might have been the push I need to make this a reality.
What to Expect on a Creative Retreat:
All retreats are different and if you are hosting your own, you can really do whatever fills your soul. Here are some of the things we did on this retreat that I thoroughly enjoyed.
– LOTS of conversation
At the end of the day, as much as I enjoyed all the activities and exercises, the helpful and inspiring conversation among the host and attendees will always be my favorite part. This is where I learned the most and it is what leaves me feeling fired up.
– Creative Exercises
Since Shaunna is a fellow creative, I knew this retreat would have a few hands-on exercises and I was right. We styled beautiful flat-lay photography, visited the local bookstores and shops, and even did a little oil painting.
– A Deeper Look
Another item I appreciated about this retreat is that Shaunna provided us with an invaluable workbook. It is full of exercises and writing prompts for us to complete in order to get the most out of the retreat. The best part? This workbook can be used again and again as a guide for any retreat. It will especially come in handy should I do some solo retreats.
As a group, we did a few of the exercises together. I really loved this because, as someone that works from home alone, I’m often left thinking I’m the only one that struggles with certain things. It turns out that’s not the case at all. As we worked through some of these things, the participants at the retreat found that we had a lot in common. It was wonderful to discover this and healing to talk it out.
– Alone Time
Being an introverted person, I love that alone time was built into this retreat. It gave me a chance to absorb what I was learning, think about changes I need to make, and it even gave me some time to explore the beautiful gulf coast. (If you’ve never been to this part of Florida, I highly recommend it!) Having not walked the beach in years, this was good for my soul.
And while this wasn’t an activity, I must say that the meals were amazing. We had a big charcuterie spread, a stunning packed picnic lunch, and even an in-home chef-prepared meal.
I even got to prepare a cocktail for the group. I made a delicious bourbon, ginger, and lemon cocktail using my favorite Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon. I’ll be sharing the recipe with you soon! Stay tuned!
Needless to say, I felt special and cared for the entire time!
Creative Retreat Special Mentions:
I also wanted to give a quick shout-out to two brands that I love who were kind enough to provide some beauty and deliciousness for the retreat. Their participation was invaluable and helped to make this retreat even more beautiful and delicious!
Marqués De Riscal
Every retreat needs wine, right? Marqués De Riscal was kind enough to provide two wines for the retreat. We drank wine every night. I was familiar with Marqués De Riscal because of their Rioja, the red wine they provided for our event. Back when I worked for the Four Seasons, this was one of the red wines they had on their menu. It’s delicious, pairs beautifully with food, and the bottle is gorgeous. It’s wrapped in gold netting that makes it beautiful to present or to even give as a gift.
They also sent a white wine, their Verdejo, which was wonderfully delicious too. This variety was new to me, but I found myself really enjoying it and gravitating to it as my go-to. I think it’s a great wine just for sipping and enjoying. It would pair nicely with a light lunch.
You might remember that several weeks ago I shared my tips for styling fall flower arrangements. All of the beautiful blooms were from my friends at PetalDriven. Because I really enjoyed working with their flowers, I asked if they would be willing to share some more blooms so I could decorate the home we were staying in for the retreat. PedalDriven was more than happy to oblige.
I picked some of my favorite blooms including White Dahlias, Pink Alstroemeria, Mixed Eucalyptus, Miss Piggy Roses, and Roseum Viburnum. The combination was stunning. They looked gorgeous throughout the entire retreat.
I styled all the arrangements myself. The selection of flowers worked perfectly to style large arrangements for the gathering spaces and smaller vases for the bedrooms.
If you are ever in need of direct wholesale flowers shipped straight to your door, PetalDriven is a winner! You can save 10% on your order by using the code “INSPIRED10” at checkout.
Thank you PetalDriven!
Creative Retreat – Final Thoughts:
And that’s a wrap on this creative retreat. It is my understanding that Shaunna and The Creative Exponent plan to host more retreats in the future. There’s even talk about doing an abroad retreat next year. (I’m keeping my fingers crossed.) If a creative retreat sounds interesting or helpful, give The Creative Exponent a follow, and sign up for their mailing list so you don’t miss out on details of future retreats.
Also, this just happens to be the creative retreat I took. This isn’t sponsored in any way. I assume there are dozens if not hundreds of creative retreats out there to choose from every year. Do some research and find the retreat that speaks most to your creative heart. And if you can’t find one, take yourself on your own creative retreat or gather some friends and do a group thing. These things do take effort to coordinate and plan, but I can’t explain how wonderful, helpful, and refueling a creative retreat can be!